Tag: wifi

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Google: The Most Successful War-Drivers In History

Just as they made amends for violating the privacy of Buzz users in the United States, web giant Google, Inc. is in trouble yet again as the Information Commissioner in the United Kingdom has come to the conclusion that Google violated the privacy of UK citizens.  This run-in with the UK government is slightly ironic in the sense that it comes at the same time that Google is suing the United States government, claiming that they violated fair competition laws when they specified that Microsoft software was a required component of a US Department of Interior bid.

But how exactly did Google violate the privacy of UK citizens?  Many of you are probably familiar with the “street-view” component of Google’s Google Maps service, which allows an end user to see an image of a street in question – just as if you were driving on it.  In order to do this, Google sends out cars equip with cameras in order to take the photographs that are later made available to the end-users.  However, Google also uses these street-view cars in order to map out locales based on the MAC (Media Access Control) addresses broadcasted by wireless access points that reside within them.  By doing so, Google is able to produce location-aware software that is able to determine a consenting user’s location my cross-referencing the access points near them with their database.  One example of this technology can be seen in Apple’s iPod Touch, where location-aware applications (such as the native mapping application) is able to use the on-board wireless card in order to determine the location of a user.

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FaceTime-Like Technology Heading to Android?

One of the most attractive features about the Apple iPhone 4 (and now the iPod Touch as well) is the FaceTime video conferencing technology. For those that are unfamiliar with this feature, it essentially allows parties to use built-in cameras on the handsets to place real-time video calls over WiFi. However, many people argue that being limited to WiFi is a major setback of the application. But I for one believe that WiFi communications technology is truly a step in the right direction for mobile communications.

Today, T-Mobile – one of the largest mobile carriers in the country – announced that they will be introducing WiFi-based audio calling on many equipped Android handsets. In short, this feature would allow end-users to place and receive phone calls and SMS message on their handsets, using WiFi connections when a cellular signal was unavailable. These calls (both foreign and international) would be priced lower than if they were carried out on the cellular network. For people in corporate environments or locations where cellular signals are less than sufficient, this new feature could be an amazing convenience.

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